Father Ignatius was at the supermarket pushing his trolley slowly from one aisle to the next and reading his shopping list as he went along. He rarely visited the confectionery counters but this time he made a special detour to buy a box of chocolates for Mrs Davenport, his housekeeper, whose birthday was the following day.
Just as he entered the aisle he saw one of his parishioners there standing a few feet away. He was a successful local business man and a regular in church every Sunday and at confession every Saturday morning.
The priest was about to greet him when what he saw next made him suddenly stop in his tracks and freeze on the spot.
The business man took a chocolate bar from the shelf and put it in his pocket. He then moved away nonchalantly as if nothing happened.
Father Ignatius faced a sudden dilemma. Should he confront the man and tell him what he did is wrong. This may well cause a scene at the store as the man may well deny any wrongdoing.
Or should he inform a member of staff about what he had just witnessed and leave the matter to them.
Or should he just do nothing. Look the other way. Condone stealing through his lack of actions.
As the man casually walked out of the store Father Ignatius decided to let matters rest. He walked up the aisle and bought an identical chocolate bar as the man had just stolen.
Two days later Father Ignatius was hearing confessions as he normally does on Saturday mornings.
He sat at his confessional, which was one of those old fashioned wooden cubicles where he sat in the middle, and on either side people would kneel and speak to him through a small aperture covered by a thick curtain so that he would not see who is kneeling there.
He often smiled to himself at the intricacies of these old contraptions.
“What is the point of all this secrecy” he asked himself, “when I can usually tell who is on the other side of the curtain by their voice?”
Father Ignatius had a good memory for faces and voices and more often than not he knew who was confessing their sins to him. He had his regulars turning up Saturday after Saturday seeking absolution and listening to his wise words before leaving with a much lighter heart to pray their penance.
“Even their sins are always the same …” smiled Father Ignatius to himself as he waited for his first parishioner to kneel by his side, “sometimes I could recite their sins for them … but then, they’d think I can read minds …” he chuckled silently.
“Well at least they’re a good lot generally … not terrible sinners most of them …”
About half-an-hour later the business man he saw at the store came for his usual Saturday confession. Father Ignatius listened attentively to him and noted that he had not mentioned the incident at the store.
After the man had finished talking Father Ignatius whispered quietly through the heavy curtain, “for your penance I want you to take this …”
And he handed him the chocolate bar he’d bought from the store through the heavy curtain dividing both men.
The man took the chocolate bar and mumbled quietly, “I don’t understand.”
“It is your favourite chocolate is it not?” asked the priest.
“Er … yes it is.”
“Two days ago I saw you pocket a similar bar in the supermarket … am I right?”
“Yes … Father …” mumbled the man after a short pause.
“You see my son,” continued Father Ignatius, “I wasn’t the only one who saw you steal that chocolate bar … God saw it too … I spoke to Him about it … and He asked me to buy you a similar chocolate bar …”
The man said nothing, feeling both ashamed and totally repentant in his heart.
“For your penance I want you to enjoy this chocolate bar,” continued the priest quietly, “but I also want you to promise that you will never steal anything ever again … is that a deal?”
“Yes Father,” mumbled the man behind the curtain.
“And remember … next time you do something wrong, I may not be there to witness it … and God alone may be the one seeing your wrongdoing …”
“Yes Father!” repeated the repentant man as the priest absolved his sins and sent him in peace to fulfil his penance.
Part One: Yesterday's post was a story about Father Ignatius. As you know, I have written several novels and short stories about this priest. Yesterday, Mevely and Chris suggested that these stories/books would make a good TV series. The reality of life is that I do not know anyone in the USA in the film or TV industries.
Do YOU, dear readers have any contacts or friends who have contacts, or friends of friends ... you get the picture. I have tried in secular UK to get these stories noticed with no success.
Mevely also asked: If the stories were to be filmed. Which actor would be suitable to play Father Ignatius? What do you think?
Now let's get on with Part Two of this post. It is a story which has often featured in the cinema and TV.
Ze Trois Musketeers
It was a dark and stormy night ...
"Eeet always eeez" said Athos to Porthos and Aramis as they sat in the local tavern in Paris drinking wine.
"Pouquoi eez eet," he continued, "zat all zee stories zey start weez a darke and a stormee night? Why does not Alexandre Dumas, zee author of our illustrious storees saye zat eet was a beautiful day wiz zee sun shining; or a beautiful night wiz zee mooning?"
"Who eez doing zee mooning?" asked Porthos.
"Zat I would like to see," Aramis joined in.
At this point a young lad by the name of d'Artagnan, (which means from Artagnan wherever that is), entered the tavern. He was totally soaking wet from head to toe.
"Eez eet raining outside in zees darke and stormee night?" asked Athos.
"Non ... I fell in zee reever," replied d'Artagnan.
"You must 'ave been in Seine," said Athos.
("This clever joke never ceases to amuse me," said the author of this Blog - i.e. ME!).
"Go and get changed," commanded Porthos, "and zen come and join us in a glass of wine to drink ze health of ze King Louis XIV. Vive le King!"
"Vive le King!" everyone in the tavern said.
"All for ze one and ze one eez for all!" cried out Aramis.
"Yeh ... right!" everyone in the tavern said, "wait until there's a real fight mate, and you'll be all alone!"
By the way, this is King Louis XIV who had furniture named after him. To this day antique dealers say, "this is a Louis XIV chair, or table or whatever!" You'll forgive me, I hope, if every so often I interject to introduce a little educational snippet or two to educate as well as entertain. Thus being my aim and mission in this soliloquy. At this point of my writing, the cat came in the computer room and started rubbing himself against my feet wanting a caress. I sent him out of the room saying, "Go away ... this is a monologue; not a catalogue!"
Anyway, let's continue with the story ...
The wet d'Artagnan went upstairs with the young maid, Yvonne Eyeful, the daughter of the landlady, Madame Leggert, to find some old clothes which the young lad could change into.
As he was getting undressed behind a Louis XIV wooden framed screen with silk curtains, (worth about £500 at a good antique dealer), Yvonne Eyeful looked at the young man's reflection in the mirror and laughed.
"What are you laughing at?" asked d'Artagnan covering his assets.
"Oh ... eet eez nothinge," she smiled; amused by little things.
"Eet eez veree cold tonight," said d'Artagnan shivering all over.
At this point two soldiers in the employ of the evil Cardinal Richelieu entered the tavern downstairs. (The tavern had to be downstairs. It wouldn't be up in d'Artagnan's bedroom would it? Just pay attention).
The two soldiers in the employ of Cardinal Richelieu drew their swords and shouted, "On Garde".
"Garde a l'eau!" said the landlady, Madame Leggert as she threw at them the contents of an enamelled Louis XIV chamber pot worth £199 at an antique dealer's.
The pot is worth that money, not the contents. Are you really paying attention to this story? I'm not making it all up as I go along, you know! This is a well researched bit of history written for your edification and delight.
So ... Madame Leggert said, "Garde a l'eau!"
This is of course before the French had invented the bidet. The bidet appears to have been an invention of French furniture makers in the late 17th century, although no exact date or inventor is known. But before the invention of the bidet, in Olden Days, the French, (and the English), had chamber pots in the house
before the modern toilet seat was invented. The servants used to empty
the pots out of the windows into the street below. They shouted first
"garde a l’eau!" which means watch out for the water! And that's how
showers were invented. In time the phrase travelled to England, (in a
pot), and we too started showering each other. That's were the term
"loo" for toilet comes from. You see ... education as well as entertainment in this Blog. Make sure you visit here frequently, and invite your friends too! That's education, entertainment and advertising thrown in too.
The landlady said, "garde a l'eau!" and emptied the contents of the chamber pot on the two soldiers. Meanwhile all the people in the tavern, sensing a fight is about to break out, and remembering the moto "all for one and one for all!" got up from their tables and ran out of the tavern.
Leaving only the three musketeers and the landlady there.
"This is insane!" said the two soldiers wet and dirty from head to toe.
"We've already used that joke!" said Aramis.
"No seriously," said one of the soldiers, "it is stupidly insane to throw all this stuff at us."
"Ab turd!" added the other soldier who had a bit of a lisp, giving me an opportunity to make a joke at the expense of his speech impediment.
At this point a long nose entered the tavern through the half-opened door.
"I smell the depth of depravity and wantonness!" said a voice following the nose.
Ten minutes later Cyrano de Bergerac enters the tavern.
He was a soldier with a particularly long nose which always arrived some minutes before him. He had won many a duel because his opponents could not get close enough to him to fight him. Whilst they marvelled at his swordsmanship, waving his epée left and right, he would hit them on the head with his nose and knock them out.
His nose was so big he could smell round corners.
His nose was so big that it was used by tailors to measure cloth.
His nose was so big he'd point at you and catch your eye.
His nose was so big that when he lies down on his stomach for a massage the bed is at a slant.
His nose was so big that it made the flowers wilt.
His nose was so big that it made an elephant jealous.
His nose was so big that he'd inhale the whole snuff box.
His nose was so big his pullover shirts had stretch marks.
His nose was so big the grindstone was worn out.
His nose was so big he could smoke a cigar in the shower.
His nose was so big it made Jimmy Durante jealous.
He was so poor he could not even pay attention!
Hold on ... this last joke is out of place here. Please forget you've heard it and I'll use it in another Blog post.
To continue ... when Cyrano de Bergerac eventually entered the tavern Athos said to him, "were you born with this nose, or did you pick it yourself?"
"Enough with the nose jokes, already!" said Porthos, "let us be civilised. We have here a soldier in the employ of Cardinal Richelieu and we should show him some respect!"
"That's easy for you to say," retorted D'Artagnan coming down the stairs, "you don't have a big nose like his".
And at this point, I realised that I had run out of things to say about the story of the three musketeers and D'Artagnan, Cyrano, Richelieu and of course King Louis XIV.
Father Ignatius really didn’t like visiting the nearby City, especially by car. So when he had to go for a Conference called by the Bishops at the Cathedral he took the train and then a taxi to the Cathedral.
The Conference itself was somewhat long and tedious with many people too fond of their voice and ready to hear it pronouncing pearls of wisdom ad infinitum. Father Ignatius took notes in order to report back to his Bishop when he returned to his Parish at St Vincent Church.
When the Conference was over Father Ignatius stood by an empty taxi stand and waited for a cab to arrive.
Within a minute or so a large black car parked by him and two burly men came out from the back seat.
“Would you please get in the car Father?” said one of them.
The priest hesitated, “This is not a taxi …” he mumbled, “Who are you?”
“Let’s not make a scene in public …” continued one of the men politely, “please get in the car … here’s something to show our good intentions …” and the man put his hand in his jacket inside pocket and pulled out a bunch of notes; “there’s £200 here as a down payment … now get in the car.” And handing the money to the priest the two men eased him gently but forcibly into the car and sat one on each side of him; whilst the driver moved away quickly.
Still clutching the money Father Ignatius said, “What’s going on here … what do you want with me?”
“Relax Father … just cooperate with us for a while and all will be OK … put our little donation in your pocket and we’ll give you another £200 when this is all over … now if you don’t mind; I have to put this over your head. Just as a precaution you understand. It won’t hurt I assure you.”
The man put a hood gently over the priest’s head and tightened it round his neck to ensure he couldn’t see.
“We won’t hurt you Father …” he continued gently, “you have my word, now please relax.”
Father Ignatius had no choice but to sit there between the two giants whilst the car hurried in city traffic. At one stage the car stopped for a while, possibly at traffic lights, and the priest heard the sound of a church clock beating two quarters “it must be half past five” he thought to himself.
He tried to concentrate and listen carefully, but, not being familiar with the city, any sounds he heard meant nothing to him. However, he tried to recollect them in the order that they were heard; and he counted slowly in-between sounds to record the passage of time.
“We stopped for a few minutes at half past five … then we drove until I counted about one hundred, then I heard the sound of an ambulance or police car, then I counted to two hundred and twelve when I heard the sound of a passing train …” and so on went his thoughts.
The car must have joined a motorway or highway at some point or other because the priest heard nothing specific and felt the car pick up speed. This lasted for a long while when eventually he felt the car slow down as it drove over gravel for a bit and then stop. He then heard the sound of two barking dogs nearby. They must have been big dogs by the sound of it … Alsatians or Dobermans perhaps.
He was led by his guards holding him by each arm over the gravel for a short distance, then up two or three stairs and into a building. There they stopped and took off his hood.
It took him a few seconds to adjust his eyes and see that he was in a splendid large hall of some luxurious building. There were magnificent paintings on the walls and beautiful chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. He was surrounded by several large marble statues and ornaments.
With both his bodyguards on each side he waited there whilst another man dressed in a black suit came out of one of the rooms on his left.
“This is not Father Bernard Breally,” said the man approaching him, “who the hell are you?”
“I’m Father Ignatius …” replied the priest feebly.
“Are you Catholic?”
“I suppose you’ll do … one priest is as good as another … what happened to Breally?” he asked the two burly men.
“This was the only priest standing by the taxi place … you told us to get the priest waiting for a cab and this is him …” replied one of the men apologetically.
“OK … take him over there.
“Father would you please mind waiting in that room and make yourself at home. You are not a prisoner here … just our guest for a moment or two … Help yourself to tea or coffee and biscuits; there’s a drinks cabinet in there too if you wish to have something stronger. There’s a rest room in case you wish to freshen up.
“And please … don’t even think of escaping through the windows … the dogs out there would tear you to pieces in seconds.
“I’ll be with you shortly.”
Father Ignatius was led to a side room as richly decorated as the hall he’d just been in. He was left there alone for about twenty minutes or so, where he sat in a comfortable luxurious sofa and prayed silently.
Eventually the man who greeted him on arrival returned and asked him to follow him. He was led up the stairs of this palatial mansion and into one of the rooms.
It was a spacious bedroom as richly decorated as the rest of the house. In bed was a pale looking man sitting up surrounded by a few people. There was a young lady in a nurse’s uniform and another middle-aged woman. Two other strong men stood guard by the door.
“Leave us alone …” said the elderly man.
Everyone left the room silently and closed the door behind them.
“Come over here and sit down Father …” said the man.
The priest approached the bedside and sat in a chair nearby.
“I’m sorry to have disturbed you Father … I needed to see Father Breally but my idiots got the wrong man. They tell me you’re Catholic … so you’ll do I suppose. Do you know Breally?”
“No … I don’t …”
“Well never mind … he’s a priest I knew long ago … I’ve known him since we were Altar boys together. Then as we grew up I got into the wrong company whilst he decided to become a priest. Many a time he warned me not to break the law … to leave my gang and get a good job …” the man chuckled quietly and wiped his mouth with a handkerchief he was holding.
“Do you think if I followed Breally’s advice I’d have this mansion and all my riches? I bet he is as poor as a church mouse …
“I haven’t seen him in years. I was led to believe that he’d be at the Conference and that he’d wait by the taxi stand … instead my men got you.
“So you’ll do I suppose … I need a favor from you!”
“What is it that you need?” asked Father Ignatius gently.
“I’m fifty-nine and I’m very ill. The doctor who was standing here doesn’t think much of my chances … I want you to forgive my sins and prepare me for Heaven …”
“I don’t understand … why all this secrecy and why did you have me brought here?” asked Father Ignatius gaining a little confidence.
“Do you know who I am?”
“No I don’t … I don’t even know where I am … your men blind-folded me in the car …”
“I’m sorry for that,” interrupted the man, and then after a short silence went on, “it doesn’t matter who I am …
“Suffice it to say that I don’t have a glorious past, but I guess you’ve already worked that out … I haven’t always been what you’d call a good Christian … not since the Altar boy days … ” he chuckled again reminiscing on his childhood.
“Don’t get me wrong Father … Ignatius is it?”
The priest nodded silently.
“Don’t get me wrong Father Ignatius, I’ve never done anything really bad myself you understand … but I’ve often asked my boys to do certain things for me … I’m sure you understand what it’s like.
“Sometimes in my line of business you need to be a little forceful in order to be respected by your peers …”
The priest said nothing and waited for the man to continue.
“So there you have it … will you forgive an old gangster and get him to Heaven?”
“It’s not as easy as that,” replied Father Ignatius.
“What do you mean? My boys gave you a handsome donation which we’ll supplement with another one when you leave. What else do you want?”
“Confession is not bought with money …” said Father Ignatius still holding his gentle yet firm tone of voice, “you may well confess your past sins and I may well absolve you of them … but that in itself is no guarantee to entry in Heaven.”
“When I was an Altar boy I was told that a priest can forgive your sins and all is well again with God. That’s what Jesus said to His disciples to do …” protested the man sitting up.
“Yes … that’s true. But with Confession there should be true repentance and regret for what we have done. It is no point just confessing one’s sins and hoping that all is well.
“God is not an insurance policy. Providing we pay our premiums by way of Confession, Communion and attending Mass every now and then; our place in Heaven is guaranteed.
“It just doesn’t work like that …
“Tell me something …” continued Father Ignatius gaining confidence all the time, “suppose you were one of the victims of the many things you claim to have done … how would you feel if you knew that the person who committed such crimes against you suddenly said sorry on his death bed, recited a prayer or two as a penance and got entry into Heaven?”
“What else can I do? My crimes are done and gone … I can hardly turn the clock back … You’ve got to help me Father … that’s what you priests are here for isn’t it?” pleaded the man his hand shaking a little.
“I will pray for you … and I will absolve your sins by the power given to me by our Lord Jesus …” said Father Ignatius.
“But I will not give you a penance … this is not a matter of asking you to say a Hail Mary and all will be well again …
“I’ve never been in such a situation before … and they never taught us what is an appropriate penance in these circumstances …” Father Ignatius bit his lip, thinking he’d probably overstepped the mark.
The man laughed heartily.
“A priest with a sense of humor … I like that …” he said after a short pause.
Father Ignatius continued.
“I will leave the matter of final absolution in the hands of God, since only He knows your heart, your intentions and your genuine repentance.
“I will also leave the money your men gave me right here … the Lord’s absolution is not for sale … it is given freely by Him alone.”
Father Ignatius heard the man’s Confession and prayed with him for a while. He was then driven back, hooded once again, to the city and dropped at the railway station where he caught a train home.
Weeks later he read in the newspaper that the man had died. The papers had his picture, which Father Ignatius recognized, and they named him as an infamous gangster who terrorized the city for many years. The papers also said that he had left large sums of money in his Will to various charities and Christian churches.
I've been thinking. I do that quite a lot recently, I noticed. Thinking whilst standing up, or even sitting down, or lying in bed or on the couch in front of the TV. Thinking has become a habit as of late. I wonder why we think? Why do I think more than usual these days.
I was lying on the couch; nothing on TV except dust. I chose not to comment about it in case I got the silent treatment ... again! Not sure what is worse; the silent treatment or being told things I don't want to hear.
Anyway, I was thinking. Our ears are where they are for a purpose. On each side of our head. If our ears were at the back of our head we would go deaf every time we lay on our back in bed.
Imagine if you had an extra mouth on top of your head. You could put a sandwich under your hat and eat it without anyone noticing you.
Or if you had an extra eye at the end of your finger. You could see round corners then. You'd bend your index finger round the wall and see what's round the corner. Or you could put your finger in your ear and see what's there. The possibilities are endless as to where you could put your finger.
What if you could move all your bits on your body to places that are more convenient? Men especially would find this useful. Imagine having your belly button on your forehead, men! Or wearing an unusual tie!
Another thing I was thinking about. Did the inventor of the screw have his hair parted in the middle of his head?
Did the inventor of the Phillips screw have his hair parted as a cross?
Years ago, before they invented the clock with a big and small hands; how did they know how to turn something clockwise or anti-clockwise? It must have sent them cuckoo when someone said down the phone, "turn it clockwise!"
How about the man who invented the wheel. What did he do with it when he invented it? Hardly worth anything is it? It would never catch on. Not unless he invents a second wheel then he would have a bicycle. It's the man who invented the second wheel who's the clever one.
And here's another thought. Do fish ever drown if they can't swim? Who teaches them to swim anyway; when they are babies? Do they ever get water in their eyes like we do?
Why is coffee not everyone's cup of tea?
Why is abbreviation such a long word? Why not abbreviate it?
Why all the fuss as to whether the toilet seat is up or down? Cut it in half and put your half any way you want.
I can't help thinking that all this thinking is doing my head in.
Do you ever think? What do you think about? Share your thoughts here. No matter how strange. We promise not to laugh ...
A couple of days ago I was invited at my boss's house out in the country for "a little bite to eat and a drink", as he called it.
He lives in one of those big mansions that posh people have, you know, just like the one where Theodore Luxton-Joyce lives. (NOTE: Thank you Martha for your lovely AMAZON Review of this book. Readers - please click on Theodore Luxton-Joyce to read this wonderful Review. Martha's Blog is highly recommended - CLICK HERE).
He had invited a number of people from work as well as a few of his friends and golf-playing pals and a number of people from his gentleman's club. It was mainly a stand-up affair where everyone stands in this large room mingling and talking whilst a multitude of waitresses come round offering you hors d'oeuvre, canapés and small little bites you would not give your dog; and a number of waiters offer you various drinks, mainly alcoholic rather than a good pint of lemonade, or a cup of tea. Anyway, I had been invited and it was not the kind of invitation you would turn down. More a three-line whip as they say in political circles. As it happens, just before I set off from my office I got a phone call: "Could you pick up Bertie the guinea pig from the vet please? ... Please ... Pretty please ... We'll be ever so grateful for the rest of the year ... Please!!!" Why can't they pick up their own stupid pets? Anyway, at the vets the nurse said that Bertie was still a little sleepy from the anaesthetic and will be so for the rest of the day. Have I got his little carrying cage?
Have I heck? I said yes and took the little creature and put him in my brief case to keep him warm.
At the party, whilst everyone was mingling and being ever so polite and upper-class, don't you know, what? Jolly good old chap. And all that. Someone noticed my sleeping Bertie walk along the wall. He must have woken up and got out of my case when I went to fetch the Marketing Report for my boss and forgot to close the case again.
Now normally, any sane person would have said there's a guinea pig about.
Just point at the creature and say: "By Jove, there's a most magnificent specimen of the guinea pig variety, don't you know ... what?" Now isn't that something you have often said at parties?
But NOOOO. On this occasion some idiot from the golf club said: "There's a rat here, a damn big rat!"
"Yes ... a rat!"
"Where over there?"
"It was there. He's now gone over there I think ..."
"A big fat ugly rat ..."
"It's now ran over there ... look out ... he might bite!"
"Rats carry the platonic plague, you know ..."
"Yes, it's in their teeth. One bite and you're a gonna!"
"I don't want it to tear my 15 Denier nylon stockings ..."
"Don't be silly, man. Why are you wearing nylon stockings anyway?"
"Because I couldn't buy nylon tights to fit me!"
"Over there ... I've seen the rat over there ... it's big and furry ..."
Pretty soon there was pandemonium in that room. My boss's wife was mortified as well as mummified at the thought of having rodents in her house.
"We don't have rats in this house, have we Luis?" she asked her husband.
"No ... there's quite a few at work though ..." he replied referring to his employees.
Everyone was running here there and everywhere in no particular direction trying to avoid and escape a non-existent rat who happened to be my sleeping Bertie taking a walk.
Women, including the waitresses in their mini skirts, suddenly jumped on top of chairs, sofas, armchairs or whatever furniture of height, like the table at the end of the room, and held their skirts and dresses up high showing off their un-mentionables. I really did not realise there were that many varieties of underpants for the ladies.
What is it with you ladies? What is the point of standing on a chair with your skirt held up high? Do you think the rat, or any other creature, would climb up your legs? The very sight of you screaming would most probably send him to apoplexy.
I noticed there was even a wimp of a man standing on a chair and holding tight to a young waitress. On second thoughts, maybe he was taking advantage of the situation.
The butler came in with an assistant and tried to find the rat and kill it with a heavy shovel in his hand.
Luckily, I noticed Bertie cowering in the corner just by the grand-father clock. I quickly bent down, picked him up and put him in my trouser pocket. The stupid animal thanked me for saving him from certain death by biting my finger and whatever else he found in my pocket. He then proceeded to tumble and somersault in my pocket in a most embarrassing display which I wouldn't want you to imagine right now!!!
Luckily, no one saw him or his acrobatics in my trouser pocket. And the rat was not found or seen ever again.
The party continued in a most subdued manner, and I noticed no one was eating the hors d'oeuvre.
"Again, I tell you truly that if two of you on the earth agree about
anything you ask for, it will be done for you by My Father in Heaven. For where two or three gather together in My name, there I am with them." Matthew 18: 19-20